The newest version of the A350, the A350-900 Ultra Long Range – it has a 9,700 nautical mile range (15,610km) range – was rolled out at Toulouse yesterday.
Singapore Airlines has ordered 7 of the aircraft and its high on the list of potential candidates for Qantas and their Sydney to London or New York specification, although it will need further modification to meet those ranges and remain financially viable.
Singapore is planning to resume its non-stop trans-Arctic route to New York, last serviced by A340-500’s in an all business class layout in 2013, as well as direct flights to SFO and LAX.
The A359ULR has 30% larger wing tip fins (being rolled out as standard from Iberia’s first A359 onward), a new fuel tank and distribution system to accommodate and manage more fuel, and a number of engine tweaks, aerodynamic and weight reduction modifications to boost the range.
The whole project has been about improving the A350 in general, not just to create an aircraft for one or two customers. Many of the changes have already found their way into the A35K. Airbus has committed to rolling improvements to the A350 series rather than ceasing all development as with past aircraft types. It underlines that that the A350 is fighting both the 787-10 and 777-8/9 families in terms of competition in the coming years.